Welcome to the last installment of the Seven Sages Series! The weeks have truly flown by. Today, we will be talking about Periander of Corinth, who was the second tyrant of the Cypselid dynasty that ruled over that city-state. He was the son of Cypselus, of the family of the Heraclidae. He married Lyside (whom he called Melissa). She was the daughter of Procles, the tyrant of Epidaurus. He had two sons, Cypselus and Lycophron. The eldest, Cypselus, is said to have been mentally disabled.

Periander continued the policies of his father, which were directed against the hereditary nobility. In the interests of the trading and artisan classes, Periander introduced customs duties and state coinage of money and organized a large-scale building program. Under his rule, many vestiges of the hereditary order were eliminated, hereditary divisions were replaced by territorial divisions, territorial courts were created, and military units of mercenaries were organized. To strengthen the centralized authority, Periander introduced statutes to register the income of the populace and prohibit public banquets, lavish holiday celebrations, and mass gatherings in public squares. He also instituted a law against luxury.

To promote and protect Corinthian trade, Periander established colonies at Potidaea in Chalcidice and at Apollonia in Illyria. He conquered Epidaurus and annexed Corcyra. The diolkos (“portage way”) across the Isthmus of Corinth was perhaps built during his reign. It appears that the commercial prosperity of Periander’s Corinth became so great that the tolls on goods entering its ports accounted for almost all government revenues. Periander cultivated friendly relations with Thrasybulus, tyrant of Miletus, and maintained ties with the kings of Lydia and Egypt. In the cultural sphere he was a patron of art and of literature; by his invitation the poet Arion came to the city from Lesbos.

While his wife Melissa was pregnant with Lycophron, Periander and his wife seem to have gotten into an argument about (false) accusations of infidelity on Priander's part,  during which he either kicked or threw his her down a staircase. Melissa died, and Priander sent Lycophron away to Corcyra because he grieved for his mother. When Priander called Lycophron back to rule in his stead, the Coryreans who had been taking care of him killed the boy. Priander became so angry he sent the Coryreans' children off to be made eunuchs of. The youths were saved, however, and Priander died despondent at eighty years old.

Periander was said to be a patron of literature, who both wrote and appreciated early philosophy. He is said to have written a didactic poem 2,000 lines long. The following is a list of sayings commonly attributed to him:

Never do anything for money; leave gain to trades pursued for gain.
Whoever wishes to wield absolute power in safety should be guarded by the good will of his countrymen, and not by arms.
It is as dangerous to retire voluntarily as to be dispossessed.
Rest is beautiful.
Rashness has its perils.
Gain is ignoble.
Democracy is better than tyranny.
Pleasures are transient, honors are immortal.
Be moderate in prosperity, prudent in adversity.
Be the same to your friends whether they are in prosperity or in adversity.
Whatever agreement you make, stick to it.
Betray no secret.
Correct not only the offenders but also those who are on the point of offending.
Practice makes perfect.
Be farsighted with everything.
Nothing is impossible to industry.
Live according to your income.
The mind still longs for what it has missed, and loses itself in the contemplation of the past.
He who assists the wicked will in time rue it.
He who has once made himself notorious as utterly unprincipled, is not credited even when he speaks the truth.
He who trusts himself for safety to the care of a wicked man, in seeking succour meets with ruin.
However exalted our position, we should still not despise the powers of the humble.
Judge of a tree by its fruit, not by its leaves.
Liars pay the penalty of their own misdeeds.
Relaxation should at times be given to the mind, the better to fit it for toil when resumed.
Success brings many to ruin.
The soft speeches of the wicked are full of deceit.
The success of the wicked tempts many to sin.
Those who plot the destruction of others often perish in the attempt.
To counsel others, and to disregard one's own safety, is folly.
Unless your works lead to profit, vain is your glory in them.
Witty remarks are all very well when spoken at a proper time: when out of place they are offensive.
The useful and the beautiful are never separated.